You no longer have to pay $US3.99 for SwiftKey: Android’s best-selling paid app is now free from the Google Play store.
The keyboard, arguably one of the best apps of all time, tracks the way you write and automatically makes suggestions on what your next word should be. On a small keyboard, like that of a smartphone, it speeds up the process of typing.
What’s now the fifth version of SwiftKey also includes dozens of themes that users can purchase from within the app. “What we’ve really gone for with this new launch is something that’s much more visually inspiring, much more aesthetically pleasing. There’s something for everyone in there,” SwiftKey CMO Joe Braidwood tells Business Insider.
Themes will be sold for $US1 apiece; packs, which include five themes, will be around $US3; and “Premium” packs will include 10 themes for around $US5.
The update also includes improvements, such as support for 800 emoji and a new prediction feature that will predict which emoji you might want to use as you type. There’s a dedicated number row, new language support, and an improved prediction engine.
People who’ve already bought SwiftKey aren’t out of luck: They can download a “Premium” pack for free.
And soon, Android users won’t be the only ones who are able to enjoy the benefits of SwiftKey.
At WWDC, Apple announced that it will allow support for third-party keyboards in the upcoming iOS 8. Braidwood couldn’t say much about the move to iOS. He did say, though, that the company is excited and “really really happy” for the opportunity. “We’re fully committed to bringing our technology to iOS users,” he says.
Braidwood says that being able to customise the keyboards is something that users have asked for. “What we know about Android users in general is that they’re much more aware of the fact that they can customise their experience,” he says.
Getting rid of the initial “cover charge” makes sense for the app. Braidwood says that he would tell people about how great it is, and when they see how hard it is to download, people would lose interest. Now there’s nothing stopping them from downloading.
“That’s a very significant business model switch for us,” Braidwood says. “There’s enough of a hurdle to try to get someone through the install process for a keyboard, let alone the billing side of things. Removing as much of the friction as we can is really cool.”
The competition in the third-party keyboard market is fierce — there are dozens available in the Google Play store — but SwiftKey has been there from the beginning. And things are only looking up for the company.
“To see Apple adopt a ‘three-prediction UI,’ which is something that we invented back in the day, and then other OEMs have sort of slowly decided to adopt, is really interesting,” he says. “It’s just an amazing testament to the idea that typing on a touchscreen really was in need of urgent reinvention.”